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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Golf... You Gotta Love It!

I just shot an e-mail off to a friend that will soon be retiring and whom I hope will be a golfing buddy. I need someone like that - someone to drag me out of the office and onto the course.

I had the opportunity to play golf last Friday in a tournament for Fresno/Madera Youth for Christ. The event was at the Copper River Country Club here in Fresno. If you have ever golfed with me (unless it was on my unbelievable round at the Princeville Makai Course last April in Kauai - 82!), you know that I am not that great a golfer. My typical score is 95-104 - but at least I am a bad golfer who plays fast and doesn't hold up play!

The tournament is a scramble format and you have to use at least 2 drives from everyone. Lately, my driver has not been good to me, but what are you gonna do?

So we get to Hole #2 (we started at #8), a 500-yard par 5. After a drive, you need to elude a large bunker set into a hillside on the right. The approach is well uphill over a front bunker to a three-tiered, angular green.

I figure, "What the heck? I'll give my driver a shot." I take a 3/4 swing and BOOM - 250 yards. Everyone else tees off and they got bumpkis. So we take my drive. Whew - one down!

I pull out my 3 wood for the uphill approach and BAM, I hit is about 180 and it settles in right next to the bunker on a little rise. Again, everyone else hits and gets nothing - OB or short. So we take my approach.

I'm feeling pretty good as I set up for shot to the green. The green is elevated and guarded be a hill, so while you can see the pin, you can;t see the green. Knowing my limitations - like I'd be lucky to get it on the green in decent position... EVER - I just try to make a good swing with good contact.

I pure the shot. If you golf, you know what that feels like. If you're me, you only know what that feels like once in a blue moon. It feels good - real good. My ball heads straight for the green in the direction of the pin. I am happy that I am on the green (at least I figure I am - remember, we can;t see the green from where we are). Everyone else hits and gets nothing.

We walk up to the green and - yes, miracles do happen - I was about 6 inches from the cup! What, you thought I was going to say I holed it? Needless to say, I was ecstatic about my tap-in birdie!

The rest of my day was my usual junk, interspersed with moments of decent golf. But that's what makes golf great - that one shot... that one hole. And that's why I keep going back - that, and the memory that on a trade-windy day in April of 2005 on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I was 2 strokes away from breaking 80.

You gotta love this game!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sorry Rich!

I found out this morning that I accidentally dogged by buddy, Rich Kirkpatrick, by tryping in the lik to his sit incortly (for the record, that last bit was on purpose... my mistake with Rich was accidental).

So help me make it up to him. Check Rich out today - maybe even tomorrow. Or be a pal and link to his site. Rich is a great guy with great insight. I know you'll like his stuff - especially when you can find it!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Update: Bibles for Porn Stars

On April 12, I posted about how the American Bible Society refused to give custom Bibles to XXXChurch.com, an anti-porn ministry.

Mike Foster and Craig Gross, the founders of XXXChurch.com had a brainstorm: to put their "Jesus Loves Porn Stars" brand on covers of the New Testament and hand them out to porn starts and fans at an adult film convention. The cover was rejected by the American Bible Society, the publishing company that XXXchurch.com paid to print 10,000 copies of the Scriptures.

The publisher said that while it applauded the outreach to those who make a living off pornography, "the wording is misleading and inappropriate for a New Testament," according to a letter the pastors received from Barbara Bernstengel, the executive in charge of standards at the nonprofit Bible publishing company.

Well, the story is not over. Here is the latest information from the XXXChurch blog:

The Bibles Are Getting Printed!

Lets just say Eugene Peterson is the man! He is the guy behind the Message translation. He has granted us permission to print the Bibles. NAVPRESS will be printing the Bibles and we will have them in time for Erotica LA. We are pumped. You don’t know how many phone calls, emails and closed doors we experienced but we got them. These Bibles cost double the price we had originally agreed to spend but what can you do? If you would like to order a Bible this will help us with the extra cost.

We are selling the Bibles for $20 but with that $20 you are getting a Bible and getting the Bible into the hands of 12 others.

If you do not wish to receive a Bible and would just like to make a donation, click here!

Here is the text that is most likely going on the back of the Bible:

Does Jesus really love porn stars? Absolutely. Now that may go against what you thought about Jesus but it is true. You see Jesus loves porn stars as much as he loves pastors, soccer moms, liars, thieves, and prostitutes. In his eyes, we are all the same. We’re all just people in need of a savior who can come into our world and fix our messed up lives. So what you’re holding in your hands is a new testament written in contemporary language. Author Eugene Peterson wanted to get the Bible back to that kind of everyday, common language that all of us use when we're not trying to sound religious. Whether you have been reading the Bible for years or are exploring it for the first time, The Message will startle and surprise you. And it will allow you to experience firsthand the same relevance that motivated its original readers to change the course of history.

You can read the entire story HERE, or read thier previous post about the story HERE

Monday, April 24, 2006

A week away...

I took most of last week off. I came in for a few hours on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but other than that, I spent the week at home catching up on things that I wasn't able to do because of my Easter prep (like sleep!).

I hadn't planned on taking time off from my blog, but in addition to my time off from work, I spent almost the entire week off the Internet as well. It was a nice break. Sorry I didn't give you readers a head's up, though. It was sort of a last-minute decision.

I did mention in one of my posts before Easter that we had done the Stations of the Cross for Good Friday at my church. If you are unfamiliar with the Stations of the Cross, it is essentially a remembrance of the key events in the last day of Christ's life, leading up to his death and burial. You can find out more about the stations HERE.

We did the stations as a self-guided experience. When people arrived, they were given a candle and a guide in our lobby and then invited into our main auditorium. When they entered they found a room lighted primarily from the 400 candles we had set up around the room at each "station." At each station there was a picture depicting the event (inspired by THESE from England), as well as a table with candles, a bible opened to the passage of Scripture that talked about those events, and other decorations suggesting the event.

People were invited to read the Scripture passage describing the event at the station. This was in their booklet. Also in the booklet was a reflection about the station and a prayer they could pray. People continued around the room through all the stations.

After they reached the final station - Jesus' burial - they then went to the center of the room for communion around the cross. There they were reminded that it did not end at the cross... Easter Sunday was still coming. They were invited to take communion and to light their candle and leave it - maybe as a symbol of their renewed commitment to Christ, or as a prayer, or in memory of someone.

In addition to the candles, the tables, and the artwork, we had The Passion of the Christ playing silently on our screens. The audio for the day was a collection of Gregorian chants and meditative music.

We were open from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. I was thinking that if we had 100-150 people show up it would be great. We had close to 500 people go through! It was really an awesome day.

Next year we will probably add kneelers at each station and at the cross. It was something that you really wanted to do and our floors are pretty hard (carpet on concrete). Also, I will probably light each station with gobos with a break-up pattern and uplight the cross. I also want to make our whole stage area a screen for The Passion and use the screens for static art shots.

Anyway, it was a great day and the perfect way to start the Easter weekend. We will definitely be doing it again next year.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Art of the "Thank You"

As I get ready to write a whole bunch of "thank yous" to my team for this weekend, I want to give you this from The Morning News:

How to Write a Thank-You Note

Question: I have a crushing inability to write proper thank-you notes. Can you offer me some guidelines? –Helen

Answer: I was wondering when you were going to ask that question, and frankly, I’m a little disappointed it took you so long. Somewhere in between your mom making you sit down with your Peanuts stationery and you shooting off an email, you completely lost touch with the concept of simple thank-you notes. Now that you’re a grown-up, an email just won’t do, and more is expected of you than scratching out "Thanks for the present, you rock!"

Grandma might not say anything to you, but trust me: She and her friends are probably at this very moment sighing over how young people today just don’t have manners.

As extra motivation, I will also grudgingly tell you the hidden secret of thank-you notes: They improve the frequency and quality of the gifts you receive. People like being appreciated, and if they feel you actually notice the nice things they do for you, they’re more likely to give an encore performance. Do not, however, use this as a strategy to avoid writing thank-yous to those who regularly give gifts you do not like. Every gift deserves a thank-you. Even the "Keep On Truckin’" blacklight poster your crazy Uncle Alvarez gave you when you moved into the dorms.

I assure you, writing thank-yous is easier than you remember. Get yourself some stationery, plain note cards or a selection of attractive postcards (yes, postcards are perfectly acceptable!), and proper postage. Avoid the pre-inscribed "Thank you!" cards in loopy script, as there are times you’ll want to write notes where that aesthetic feels all wrong. Better to choose paper you like. Stay away from full-size sheets – note cards are best, as your message will be brief, and would look silly swimming around on a page that large. Store all of these items somewhere easily accessible and preferably in plain sight so you won’t hesitate too long or forget too easily. Say, the top drawer of your desk or on a bookshelf at eye level or below.

If you want to know when you get a genuine pass on writing a note, the litmus test is simple: Do I live under the same roof as the giver? If the answer is "yes," you need not write a thank-you note (although a thank-you Post-It might be a nice touch).

I’m not going to go all Miss Manners on your ass and get into the social intricacies and delicate situations that surround thank-you note writing, as I was taught that a solid thank-you note will transcend all complicated situations – and I have seen no evidence to the contrary.

There is a six-point formula to the proper thank-you: Learn it, know it, memorize it – and it will never fail you.

1. Greet the Giver

Dear Aunt Sally,
That’s the easy part, but you’d be surprised how many people forget it. Dale Carnegie taught us people love to hear their own names and Direct Marketing is sure we also love to read them in ink. That’s right, ink. Blue-black is always the number-one choice, but black will suffice in a pinch. Don’t let a whimsical marker color be the most stunning part of your note: instead let the words sing without the amplification of rainbow hues. Even if your handwriting is poor, you must still hand-write your notes. Do not type them or, worse, use a word processor. No excuses.

2. Express Your Gratitude

Thank you so much for the slippers.
This first paragraph seems like it would be the easiest, but it is actually the most complicated. Beware the just writing trap. You are not "just writing to say" as in I am just writing to say; that’s stating the obvious. If the giver is reading, clearly you have already written. Therefore use the present-perfect tense, which essentially means write as if whatever you say is happening in the moment.

Also – and this is important – never directly mention money. "Thank you for the hundred bucks" could instead be "Thank you for your generosity." All cash denominations become "your generosity" or "your kindness." If you feel the giver overspent, the farthest you can go is appreciated: "Your generosity is appreciated," or "It is such an extravagant gift – your kindness is appreciated."

If you’re writing to thank someone for an intangible (such as them putting you up at their place while you were in town for the weekend), first define what the intangible thing is, and then make the gift sound as attractive as possible. In other words, don’t say: "Thanks for letting us crash at your place." Instead say: "Thank you for your hospitality." Don’t worry if it sounds too simple; the point of writing the note is to create a simple expression of a heartfelt sentiment.

3. Discuss Use

It gets very chilly here in the winter, so they will get a lot of use when winter comes.
Say something nice about the item and how you will use it. Let’s say it’s something you actually love and use incessantly – then say so: "Ever since I got the slippers I have only taken them off to shower and go to work. I’d wear them to the office if I thought I could get away with it."

But don’t lie, even though some etiquette books may tell you it’s okay. After all, there’s always a truth that can be extracted. Let’s say you hate the slippers. How to say thanks? Find the one thing about them that’s nice and discuss it – but don’t get carried away. "They are such a lovely shade of blue" works, and is more honest than "These slippers make my heart sing like a choir of angels," which is overkill. If it was a gesture, like letting you stay at their place, you can follow the lines of "It’s so nice to make a personal connection while traveling. I really appreciated my time with your family."

If the gift was cash, allude to how you will use the money, but do not itemize your planned purchases line by line, instead simply say: "It will be a great help when we purchase our new home/toaster/lava lamp/whatever."

You can get arty here, but not flowery. It’s a fine line. Small, realistic statements like "I put the flowers on the kitchen table and they are still looking fresh and beautiful after a week," or "I don’t know which is more fun, actually using the Cuisinart, or reading recipes and thinking I could do that in the Cuisinart!" Having fun is alright, so have at it.

4. Mention the Past, Allude to the Future

It was great to see you at my birthday party, and I hope to see you at Dad’s retirement in February.
Why did they give you the gift? What does it mean to your relationship with the giver? Let the giver know how they fit into the fabric of your life. If it’s someone you see infrequently, say whatever you know: "Mom tells me you’re doing great at Stanford, and I hope we cross paths soon." If it’s someone you’re in regular contact with: "I’ll call you soon, but I wanted to take time to say thanks." If it’s some errant family member you have little or no contact with, simply go with "You are in my thoughts and I hope you are well." Nice, right?

5. Grace

Thanks again for your gift.
It’s not overkill to say thanks again. So say it.

6. Regards

Simply wrap it up. Use whatever works for you: Love, Yours Truly, With Love. Then sign your name and you’re done.

What’s Not There

Any news about your life. This isn’t the time to brag about your new job, a hot girlfriend, or number of surgeries. The thank-you is exclusively about thanking somebody for their kindness. While you may want more than anything to show them once and for all you amounted to something, this is not the forum. Save that for your annual Christmas letter.

Now get it in the mail. Even if your friends and relatives aren’t of the note-writing variety, be the one who sets the precedent. Thank-you-note writing is one of the loveliest traditions to have been utterly compromised by the information age. Let’s start a movement to revive a little gracious living.

HT: Just Charlie

Friday, April 14, 2006

Dance Revolution (Funny)

Well, the Easter weekend is upon us. I don't know if I'll be able to get to any posts. In case I don't, here's a Friday funny video for you.

By the way, check back tomorrow... if I can, I am going to blog about the Stations of the Cross that we put together for Good Friday. It was pretty awesome.

Anyway... on with the fun!

I can't dance. Oh, I've got a few tired moves, but they are hardly enough to impress the lady in my life, although the two blonde boys get a good laugh out of them.

On the other hand, the third guy in this clip (in the orange shirt) is pickin' unbelievable (although it does give on epause to wonder if his limberness has to do with a softening of the bones due to a calclium deficiency).

Check out past videos...
  • The Muppet Matrix HERE
  • My first guitar HERE
  • "Talladega Nights" HERE
  • "Baby Got Gook" HERE
  • Why you need insurance video HERE
  • "Never scare a brutha" video HERE
  • SuperBowl videos HERE and HERE
  • Animal blondes HERE
  • Herding cats HERE
  • Honda Civic choir HERE
  • Dancing in WalMart HERE
  • Narnia super-trailer HERE
  • Christmas lights HERE

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Rubio - Bloggio

I was at Rubio's for lunch yesterday with some of the other pastors when a guy walked up and started talking to our Care Pastor, Mike Chastain. Mike is a legend in this town. You can't go anywhere without people coming up and saying hello. It's like being with a celebrity.

Anyway, as this guy and Mike were talking, I'm thinking to myself, "This guy looks familiar." Then Mike said, "Hey Pat, I want to introduce you to Brian..."

Then it hit me.

I stood up, shook the guy's hand and said, "Hale - Yeah!" It was none other than fellow blogger, Brian Hale. Brian is the college worship leader at The People's Church in Fresno (not to be confused with the other People's Church in Franklin, TN). Brian's blog is Hale - Yeah! and it is a great read. Brian is buddies with another blogging friend, Carlos Whittaker of the Ragamuffin Soul blog and Ragamuffin Soulcast podcast.

The thing that is surprising to me about blogging is that when you meet other people who's blog you read it's like you know them. I experienced that after meeting Los and again when I met Brian at lunch the other day.

While running the risk of overspiritualizing it (but I'm a pastor... I'm supposed to see the connections), blogging creates this feel that when you combine it with our brotherhood (and sisterhood) in Christ it creates a real sense of community and fellowship. I don't know if what I jsut wrote captures what I'm really trying to say (I'm pretty spent right now).

Suffice it to say it was cool to meet Brian in the flesh. I look forward to getting together again soon.

Gotta run. Easter is 64 hours away.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

American Bible Society won't give Bibles to anti-porn ministry

I actually had the opportunity to meet Mike Foster and Craig Gross, the founders of XXXchurch.com, at a conference I attended recently. They are men who are passionate about making a difference for Christ with people who are struggling with, are addicted to, or are employed by the pornography industry.

They have a great tool called X3Watch, an accountability software that monitors the websites you visit and sends a report to your accountability partners about any questionable sites you visit. I have the software installed on my computers and am accountable to one of our pastors on staff and my wife.

Mike and Craig are doing a great work. It is not without struggles, however, as this story from the LA Times shows.

A Setback for Anti-Porn Pastors

Handing out free Bibles to porn stars and their fans at adult film conventions isn't as hard as it would seem. Pastors Mike Foster and Craig Gross say they typically give away 1,000 copies of the New Testament at the multiday conferences.

Even so, the founders of XXXchurch.com — a Corona-based anti-pornography Internet ministry — thought a hip cover could easily triple their distribution.

But the pastors' brainstorm to put their "Jesus Loves Porn Stars" brand on covers of the New Testament was rejected by the American Bible Society, the publishing company that XXXchurch.com paid to print 10,000 copies of the Scriptures.

The publisher said that while it applauded the outreach to those who make a living off pornography, "the wording is misleading and inappropriate for a New Testament," according to a letter the pastors received from Barbara Bernstengel, the executive in charge of standards at the nonprofit Bible publishing company.

Bernstengel offered several alternatives, but the pastors rejected them.

"In this case, we think this is a fight worth having because it goes to the core of the Gospel," Foster said.

Gross said their slogan isn't misleading; Jesus does love porn stars and the message doesn't insinuate that he loves pornography.

"But that's why we're putting the Bible in [the porn stars'] hands — Jesus is not OK with it," said Gross, a former youth pastor who works on the XXXchurch.com website from his Lake Elsinore garage. "The publisher is hindering the Gospel going forth."

The number of companies that publish the Bible is limited. Modern versions of the Scriptures are licensed to publishers by the organizations that did the translations.

The XXXchurch.com pastors say the rejection of the cover is typical of the clash between old-school Christianity — with its rigid structure and traditions — and an emerging brand practiced mostly by younger Christians who focus on relationships, spiritual experiences and converting nonbelievers through bold, sometimes edgy marketing.

"This whole religious rule book just needs to be burned, and we need to reinvent the rules," Gross said. "Otherwise, Christianity is going to fade away."

Roy Lloyd, a spokesman for the American Bible Society, said his 190-year-old organization publishes custom Bibles for a variety of youth-oriented ministries, including skateboarders and hip-hop devotees. "It's not that we're opposed to what [XXXchurch.com] is doing," he said. "But there needs to be a sense of propriety."

Richard Flory, a sociologist at Biola University who studies new Christian movements, said it's not surprising or outrageous that the American Bible Society would decline to publish the provocative cover.

"I actually see this as a marketing dispute," he said. "The XXXchurch.com pastors are trying to market the Bible to a niche market, and the American Bible Society, while not opposed to their efforts, is wary of the marketing strategy."

The society shouldn't jeopardize its larger mission by publishing a Bible cover that it believes will be divisive, Flory added.

Gross, 30, and Foster, 35, founded XXXchurch.com in 2002 to fight addiction to Internet pornography, especially among Christians.

Their intentionally confrontational website — billed as the "No. 1 Christian Porn Site" — includes free "accountability software" to flag questionable sites visited by users, podcasts featuring ex-porn star interviews, and hate mail from both conservative Christians and porn lovers.

"We refuse to have this be your typical Christian crap website with crosses and Bibles all over the place and communicating things that most in the world can't relate to," the pair state on XXXchurch.com.

The pastors say the "Jesus Loves Porn Stars" Bible would help get the word of God into the hands of those normally shunned by Christians.

"This is about the message of love and grace and compassion to the people we don't like in the Christian world," said Foster, adding that he is in talks with other publishers to get their Bible printed. "Maybe we need to think outside the box to maybe help these people."

Flory, the Biola professor, said if the "Jesus Loves Porn Stars" Bible were published, it would soon become a cultural icon.

"And doesn't this work at cross purposes with the XXXchurch.com goals by making it cool for people, who otherwise wouldn't have anything to do with this, to appropriate the porn star symbolism?" Flory said.

Foster said it's time for Christians to take risks.

"Yeah, the cover's out there; it's controversial, it's provocative, it's wacky," he said. "But it's to draw attention to the content. If people have that book in their hands, it's a good thing."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Muppet Matrix

Are you a Matix lover? Which one was your favorite? I loved the action in the second movie (the freeway chase seen was incredible) and the closure of the third movie (well, not really...). But the first movie was - and still is - my favorite (or for my Brit friends, "favourite").

Here for you on this Tuesday is a little Easter week treat called, "The Muppet Matrix."

HT: ysmarko

Monday, April 10, 2006

Prayer for the day...

Disturb us, Lord,
when we are too well pleased with ourselves. When our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little. When we arrive safely because we have sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us, Lord.
(Sir Francis Drake)

HT: Evotional.com

Saturday, April 08, 2006

More Ado About Nothing (The DaVinci Code)

I finished reading The DaVinci Code a few weeks ago. I also read Angels and Demons (also by author Dan Brown). Dan Brown is not to be confused with military fiction author, Dale Brown, although they've never been seen in the same room together. Coincidence? I think not.

But I digress...

Here's my opinion (for what it's worth): Angels and Demons is a fairly good story - although it gets a bit outrageous at the end. It's got a half-way decent plot and even some character development. Throw in a few twists and turns and you've got yourself a decent piece of fiction.

First, let me say this about The DaVinci Code. IT'S A FICTIONAL BOOK. Dan Brown writes FICTION. The book is not a history book, not is it historically accurate or it's assertions and conclusions held widely in history and art-history circles.

OK. Now that that's out of the way...

The DaVinci Code did not impress me as much. I thought the character development was weak at best and that the plot was a little thin. It really didn't hold my interest - except to see if I thought Dan Brown could pull it out at the end.

Here are some great thoughts from Christian screenwriter, Barbara Nicolosi from her blog, Church of the Masses. Barbara is a great lady and is incredibly intelligent and well spoken. I had the privilege of having dinner with Barbara in February. The whole time I just hoped I didn't say something stupid.

Barbara says we have four options:

  1. Ignore the movie.
  2. Protest the movie.
  3. Discuss the movie.
  4. Or just go to another movie.
Check out her post. It's great!

Also, check out the post on Middlebrow by Fred Sanders. It's a great post on the Nine Art Bloopers in the DaVinci Code. Whoops! Very informative.

My recommendation. Read the book if you must (but borrow it, don't buy it). And don't go to the movie. Don't rent it. Don't buy it. Don't vote for it in any of those ways. Instead, support movies that are positive and true.

Friday, April 07, 2006

My First Guitar

This is a classic...

HT: The Rockalot Blog

Check out past videos...
  • "Talladega Nights" HERE
  • "Baby Got Gook" HERE
  • Why you need insurance video HERE
  • "Never scare a brutha" video HERE
  • SuperBowl videos HERE and HERE
  • Animal blondes HERE
  • Herding cats HERE
  • Honda Civic choir HERE
  • Dancing in WalMart HERE
  • Narnia super-trailer HERE
  • Christmas lights HERE

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Much Ado About Nothing (The Gospel of Judas)

It's been all over the news... The Gospel of Judas has been discovered. This 2nd century Coptic translation of a Greek document that was supposed to have existed a century earlier is alledged to contain "insights into the relationship of Jesus and the disciple who betrayed him."

According to the New York Times:

The most revealing passages in the Judas manuscript begins, "The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week, three days before he celebrated Passover."

The account goes on to relate that Jesus refers to the other disciples, telling Judas "you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me." By that, scholars familiar with Gnostic thinking said, Jesus meant that by helping him get rid of his physical flesh, Judas will act to liberate the true spiritual self or divine being within Jesus.

Unlike the accounts in the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the anonymous author of the Gospel of Judas believed that Judas Iscariot alone among the 12 disciples understood the meaning of Jesus' teachings and acceded to his will. In the diversity of early Christian thought, a group known as Gnostics believed in a secret knowledge of how people could escape the prisons of their material bodies and return to the spiritual realm from which they came.

Well, at least the Times got part of it right. The Gospel of Judas is nothing more than a little 1st or 2nd century heresy called Gnosticism.

The Gnostic movement arose among early Christians and was rightly seen as being inconsistent with the revelation of God found in both the Old Testament and in Jesus Himself.

The term, gnostic, comes from the Greek word, gnosis, meaning knowledge. Gnostics said that Jesus gave certain secret knowledge to various people - who differed from one gnostic group to another. This secret knowledge, it was taught, gave those who learned it special insight or special wisdom not possessed by others.

If you want more really great information about Gnosticism, check out Better Living's post on the subject.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Would you rather...

...go to Cancun for Spring Break...

...or live at WalMart?

Dude... get a life.

HT: Dave Barry

Monday, April 03, 2006

What makes a great Worship Leader

Perry Noble has a great blog. Perry is the Senior Pastor of NewSpring Church, located in Anderson, SC. His blog says that it is "the writings of a man who is out of his mind." Now you know why I like Perry's blog. He's like me.

Recently, Perry had a great post on his perspective as a Senior Pastor on what makes a great Worship Leader.

Qualities of a GREAT Worship Leader

I will be honest - great worship leaders are HARD to find. Don't get me wrong - there are lots and lots of talented people in the world who can play a guitar and sing... but to LEAD worship, that is something totally different.

#1 - A Great Worship Leader Is A Deflector!

Anyone - I MEAN ANYONE - can perform! AND... we are fascinated by performance... look at the ratings on American Idol if you don't believe me! However, the church doesn't necessarily need someone performing for them--they need someone on stage who is "smoking what they're selling." People need to see people on stage who are EXCELLENT and what they are and who are RADICALLY in love with Jesus... which leads to my next point...

#2 - A Great Worship Leader Is Intimately Connected With God.

Trust me on this one...if your worship leader, or anyone on staff for that matter, isn't connected with God...well...they can only fake it for so long. Sooner or later junk will come out!

If someone is into worship leading because of the show - they will ultimately fail. I will say this - Lee is fun to watch... he's full of energy... he's all over the place; however, he did the same thing when we had 75 people coming... because of his connection with Jesus!

#3 - A Great Worship Leader KNOWS and UNDERSTANDS The World He Lives In.

I know this might make some pastors nervous... even a little upset... but Lee (Perry's worship leader) went to a Nickelback concert last Friday night!!! How do I feel about that? I LOVE IT! I do not like every song that Nickelback sings... but I love the fact that Lee understands that the secular world knows how to grab people's attention... and he is a student of every single band that he goes to see.

I not only don't mind Lee not going to secular concerts... I encourage it! He always comes back with fresh and creative ideas as to how we can ramp things up in our services and make them better.

But not only that - Lee understands how to connect with those who have grown up in church. For those who attend NewSpring... you have GOT to admit that one of your favorite songs is when Lee and Jon sing, "It Is Well With My Soul!" That song puts goose bumps on my goose bumps!!!

There is a balance... and that balance must be managed well.

#4 - A Great Worship Leader Must Be Attentive To The Holy Spirit!

A great worship leader does not just throw a set list together... but rather he meets with the pastor to try to get a grip on what is being talked about and then he goes and spends time in prayer - seeking God and asking Him what songs He would like to be in the service.

Once again - if a worship leader isn't listening to the Holy Spirit then he will inevitably gravitate towards doing his favorite songs... and people will then see that its a show and not a worship service.

#5 - A Great Worship Leader Must Have A Great Relationship With The Senior Pastor

Like it or not - the worship leader and the senior pastor are the two most visible people in your church... and those two people HAVE to be on the same page - or there will be tension on Sunday... and everyone can see right through it.

Senior pastors, worship leaders - understand this - it's not about the EGO... and if it ever becomes about the ego then one, or perhaps both, of you will flame out because instead of trying to reach people for Christ the attention will swing to who gets the most attention... and it just can't be that way.

#6 - A Great Worship Leader Will Seek Talent

A great worship leader doesn't have to sing every song...they don't have to be on stage every Sunday...they are not afraid to share the stage at all...AND they are constantly seeking ways to encourage and tighten the band they minister with.

#7 - A Great Worship Leader Will ALWAYS Pay When He And The Senior Pastor Go Out For Lunch!

I'm just saying that if...oh, let's say for instance that Lee and I had scheduled lunch for today that...well--Lee--look at #7 one more time! :-)

OK, that's Perry's perspective. In your opinion, what makes a great worship leader?

Check out Perry's entire post HERE.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

My Friend the Capo

I love my capo. Lest you misunderstand me, I am talking about my guitar capo (pronounced "kay (as in the name) - poe"), not my Capo from the Mafia (pronounced "cap (as in ball) - poe").

I do have a capo (in fact I have three or four. I do not, however, have a Capo.


A capo allows you to play in a lot of different keys without knowing the chords in that key. It' s like a magical musical transposer, because it works like magic. Can you play in D? G? E? Then you're good for just about everything else.

Unless you forget to put your capo on when you are supposed to. Which is what happened to me this morning. We debuted Paul Baloche's new song, "Your Name" from his soon to be released CD, "Greater Song." The song is in Bb, so I capo to the third fret and play in G. No big deal.

Unless, like I said before, you forget to put the capo on. Let's just say that the guy who was singing the song was thrown under the bus for the first verse and chorus. The band did fine - they just went with it, but the singer had a tough time. Techincally, I didn't throw him under the bus - it was more like I knocked him down and then jumped in the bus and repeated ran him over.


The song finished fine and I remembered the capo for the second service. But it was interesting for a few minutes there in the first service. Thank you, Lord, for another opportunity to learn humility.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Fool's Day Origins

Some say that April Fools' Day began in the 1500s when the Gregorian calendar took over from the Julian. Those who forgot the change and attempted to celebrate New Year's (previously celebrated on the 1st of April) on the wrong date were teased as "April fools."

When the western world employed the Julian calendar, years began on March 25. Festivals marking the start of the New Year were celebrated on the first day of April because March 25 fell during Holy Week. The adoption of the Gregorian calendar during the 1500s moved the New Year to January 1. According to the most widely-believed origin postulated for April Fools' Day, those who could be tricked into believing April 1 was still the proper day to celebrate the New Year earned the sobriquet of April fools. To this end, French peasants would unexpectedly drop in on neighbors on that day in a effort to confuse them into thinking they were receiving a New Year's call. Out of that one jape supposedly grew the tradition of testing the patience of family and friends.

There are at least two difficulties with this explanation. The first is that it doesn't fully account for the spread of April Fools' Day to other European countries. The Gregorian calendar was not adopted by England until 1752, for example, but April Fools' Day was already well established there by that point. The second is that we have no direct historical evidence for this explanation, only conjecture, and that conjecture appears to have been made more recently.

Another explanation of the origins of April Fools' Day was provided by Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University. He explained that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor that they could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine, amused, allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event.

"In a way," explained Prof. Boskin, "it was a very serious day. In those times fools were really wise men. It was the role of jesters to put things in perspective with humor."

This explanation was brought to the public's attention in an Associated Press article printed by many newspapers in 1983. There was only one catch: Boskin made the whole thing up. It took a couple of weeks for the AP to realize that they'd been victims of an April Fools' joke themselves.

Others theories about the origins of April Fool's Day are:

  • The timing of this day of pranks seems to be related to the arrival of spring, when nature "fools" mankind with fickle weather, according to the Encyclopedia of Religion and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • The Country Diary of Garden Lore, which chronicles the goings-on in an English garden, says that April Fools' Day "is thought to commemorate the fruitless mission of the rook (the European crow), who was sent out in search of land from Noah's flood-encircled ark."
  • Others theorize it may have something to do with the Vernal Equinox.
  • Some think to tie in with the Romans' end-of-winter celebration, Hilaria, and the end of the Celtic new year festival.

Wherever and whenever the custom began, it has since evolved its own lore and set of unofficial rules. Superstition has it that the pranking period expires at noon on the 1st of April and any jokes attempted after that time will call bad luck down onto the head of the perpetrator. Additionally, those who fail to respond with good humor to tricks played upon them are said to attract bad luck to themselves.

Not all superstitions about the day are negative, though — fellas fooled by a pretty girl are said to be fated to end up married to her, or at least enjoy a healthy friendship with the lass.

In Scotland, an April fool is called an April "gowk" — Scottish for cuckoo, an emblem of simpletons. In England, a fool is called a gob, gawby or gobby. In France, the victim of a hoax is called a "poisson d'avril," an April fish. ("April fish" refers to a young fish, thus one easily caught.) The French delight in shouting "Poisson d'Avril!" at the denouement of the foolery. Some also insist all such pranks include a fish or at least a vague reference to same within the joke. Asking someone during a phone conversation to hold the line, then later returning to the call and inquiring of the victim if there'd been any bites is a popular groaner. So are pranks which trick the victim into placing calls to fish shops or the local aquarium.

The media can't resist getting into the act. Radio personalities are especially drawn to creating playful hoaxes. The year Canada introduced a two-dollar coin, pranksters from CHEZ FM fooled listeners into believing April 1 was the last day the treasury would honor all the two-dollar bills still in circulation. Local banks and the Royal Canadian Mint fielded call after call from concerned citizens. That same year, other radio pranksters had people going through their pocket change in search of the elusive two-dollar coins which had mistakenly been minted from real gold.

Arguably the best media-generated April fools' joke dates from a Richard Dimbleby "news report" aired on 1 April 1957 on BBC's Panorama. It opened with a line about Spring coming early this year, prompting the spaghetti harvest in Switzerland to be early, too.

Against a video backdrop of happy peasant women harvesting spaghetti from trees, whimsical claims about the foodstuff's cultivation were made in a straightfaced manner. Spaghetti's oddly uniform length was explained as the result of years of dedicated cultivation. The ravenous spaghetti weevil which had wreaked havoc with harvests of years past had been conquered, said the report.

More than 250 viewers jammed the BBC switchboard after the hoax aired, most of them calling in with serious inquiries about the piece — where could they go to watch the harvesting operation? Could they buy spaghetti plants themselves? (For those anxious to try their hand at homegrown pasta, Panorama producer Michael Peacock offered this helpful hint: "Many British enthusiasts have had admirable results from planting a small tin of spaghetti in tomato sauce.")

Although adults get into the spirit of things (ask any zoo worker about manning the phones on April 1 and having to field endless calls for Mr. Lyon, Guy Rilla, and Albert Ross), it's the children that seem to truly celebrate the day with wild abandon. Not every teacher fights back, but those who do are often inventive about it. For more than 20 years, one grade school teacher in Boston comes in early on that day to write the day's assignment upside down on the blackboard. When her curious students arrive, she tells them she did it by standing on the ceiling.

The style of April Fools' pranks has changed over the years. Sending the unsuspecting on pointless errands was an especially prized practical joke in those earlier post-Julian days. In modern times, that form of pranking has shifted away from April Fools' merriment and seemingly become a rite of initiation into many groups, both formal and informal. Rookie pilots are sent in search of a bucket of prop wash, and new carnies sent on wild goose chases for the elusive keys to the fairgrounds.

Current tastes seem to run more to funny phone calls and media-driven extravaganzas. But it's still okay to reach back to older times for inspiration. Be a traditionalist — on April 1 send a co-worker to fetch a tube of elbow grease or 50 feet of shoreline.

Final Post

This will be my last post.

I'm done,